Table Mountain hike difficulty levels and Table Mountain hiking
Before a Table Mountain hike, one must know and understand the various Table Mountain hiking routes and Table Mountain hike difficulty levels. After all, you don’t want to commit to something that you will not enjoy or cannot do. At the same time, you don’t want to miss out on something that you could possibly love.
People throw a lot of general words around on the topic of difficulty levels when hiking Table Mountain, such as moderate, challenging, difficult and easy. But, which aspects of the hike are they really talking about? There are many to consider. That is why it’s important to research routes carefully and pay attention when reading the hike description. A hike described as easy may actually not be, as the description may be referring to the technical aspect. Easy doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be physically challenging or vice versa.
Physically, there are no easy routes up to the very top of Table Mountain in Cape Town; they are all challenging. However, there are plenty of hikes around the foot of the mountain and along Table Mountain National Park that do not reach the summit. If you’re looking for an easy hike, then you will find it here.
You do, of course, get very technical routes that involve climbing and exposure to big, dangerous drops. These fall into the ‘high difficulty’ category. They aren’t really addressed in this blog, which instead covers the difficulty levels on the regular hiking routes of Table Mountain. The technical routes are a whole other ball game.
Table Mountain hike difficulty levels and hiking information
Often, when someone asks if hiking Table Mountain is difficult, what he or she is really asking is, “Is it going to tire out my muscles and make me sweat?” Let’s look at fitness and hiking the flat-topped mountain.
So, then, do you need to be fit to hike up the famous Table Mountain? The answer to that common question is yes, quite frankly, you do. The Cape mountain is rather steep, and though some Table Mountain hiking routes are not as abrupt as others, you still need to be at least moderately fit to enjoy a hike to the top.
The shortest hikes up the front face of the landmark mountain are the steepest, and therefore, not the easiest. They do take less time to hike, though. While various full day hikes up Table Mountain may be a little more gradual, they take longer but are typically more enjoyable for hikers on the ascend.
When it comes to Table Mountain hike difficulty levels and terrain, fortunately, the more regularly hiked trails stay on the trail. People hike these routes regularly and local hikers and park officials have done a good job of maintaining them along most parts. Still, you may encounter loose rocks and experience unstable movement along the way. This is especially true following unfavourable weather in the winter months.
Table Mountain hiking in wet weather and on slick terrain is problematic, increasing the difficulty of the hike considerably. Hikers must have an understanding of this and take the necessary precautions for safety. The rocks can get incredibly slippery. Hikers must proceed with care. The easier Table Mountain routes, such as Platteklip Gorge, can become more technical and challenging if mist or rain happen to come in.
Scrambling, where you need to use your hands to make headway, is where things get a bit more tricky. Hikers should always be aware of the scrambles on their Table Mountain hiking route in Cape Town.
On hikes, scrambles are graded and indicate Table Mountain hike difficulty levels, but on frequently hiked routes how one handles heights is often a significant factor. Yes, it is true that you will need upper body strength and good coordination to scramble effectively. That being said, it is not usually the physical side of the scrambling that is difficult for folks. It is, in fact, more the exposure to heights that tends to make it hard.
Regular scrambling routes on Table Mountain vary from minor scrambling along the rocky river bed on Skeleton Gorge to more advanced scrambling up India Venster using staples and chains. Although these scrambles have grades determining the route difficulty level, it ultimately boils down to individual ability.
The height factor
Difficult or not, if you’re acrophobic or suffer from dizziness or vertigo, then it is advisable that you pay attention when judging the difficulty of a hiking route. Consult a guide and seek assistance beforehand. Also, check out our beginners guide to hiking Table Mountain in Cape Town if you’re a first-timer.
To be honest, I have been surprised at how frightened some individuals can get on hikes. I’ve learned a lot about people and their fear of heights from guiding tours on Table Mountain. If you’re a person with acrophobia, then avoid technically difficult routes, as you will normally be scrambling over exposed areas. Plan your hike with a guide familiar with Table Mountain hike difficulty levels to hike a scrambling route on Table Mountain.
The easiest route to navigate on Table Mountain is Platteklip Gorge. The downside is that this route is the least interesting, scenic and rewarding of the lot. As the saying goes, “The best reward comes after the hardest climb”. This is very much true and meaningful with the Table Mountain hiking routes.
Good navigation plays a vital part when hiking adventurous routes like India Venster. India Venster is difficult to navigate and can be dangerous if you don’t know the way. Be cautious. Many people have required rescuing on this route due to lack of knowledge and poor navigation. If you wish to hike the routes on Table Mountain with difficult navigation levels alone, then tackle them with a guide or experienced hiker a few times first.
Our most recommended easy Table Mountain hiking route
Now that you know about the Table Mountain hike difficulty levels, if you would like to hike Table Mountain and want a route that is classified as easy, then consider Kasteelspoort to Table Mountain summit. The route is not physically easy (as mentioned, all routes to the top are challenging) but it’s not very technical. Nature enthusiasts love the Kasteelspoort route, as it provides spectacular views and scenery throughout.